This Entrepreneur Has Helped More Than 5 Million Children Get An Education During The Pandemic

By Lee Williamson

Muhammad Iman Usman's edtech startup Ruangguru has helped millions in Indonesia by providing access to quality education. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the company has gone even further to help level the playing field

Tatler Asia
Cover  Muhammad Iman Usman, co-founder of Ruangguru
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Muhammad Iman Usman is one of 20 recipients of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards. The awards recognise Gen.T honourees who have made significant contributions to Asian society in the fields of social impact, sustainability or innovation.

A third of the world’s out-of-school children live in just six countries, according to Unesco. Indonesia is one of them. Gen.T honouree Muhammad Iman Usman—co-founder of Ruangguru, Indonesia’s largest online education platform—has made it his life’s work to fix that imbalance. 

“Indonesia has one of the largest education systems globally—we have over 50 million students over 4 million teachers—but also one of the lowest-performing. Ruangguru is trying to solve this problem” he told Credit Suisse when they visited the startup’s headquarters in Jakarta. 

Iman knows first-hand how a quality education can fundamentally change the course of a child’s life; he was the first in his family to graduate from university, and says he always knew that once he left education he wanted to do everything he could to ensure every child has the chances that he did. 

Above  Muhammad Iman Usman on his drive to help millions in Indonesia by providing access to quality education (Videography: Dozens Studio. Editing: Rex Wong)

“We are trying to improve access to quality education,” says Iman, “and we have always been striving to make the biggest impact possible”. To date, Ruangguru has been used by over 20 million students across Southeast Asia, he says. 

As well as online tutoring for students, Ruangguru is working to improve the quality of teaching in the country. “For the past few years we have been delivering one of the largest mobile-based teacher trainings in the country, reaching out to tens of thousands of teachers in over 50 cities—particularly second- and third-tier cities,” says Iman. 

Since since the outset of the pandemic, Ruangguru’s role has become more vital than ever, with schools closed for weeks at a time due to social distancing measures.

We want to leverage our content and technology to benefit the greater good
Muhammad Iman Usman

“During the pandemic we’ve been providing free online school, which is a live teaching access for students from grade one all the way to grade 12, every single day. So far this service has been used by over 5 million students during the pandemic.”

Iman is undeterred by the uphill struggle ahead of him: “I believe in order to get there we shouldn’t betray the importance of hard work. So as long as we put our heart, mind and soul into what we believe [in] and what matters, we will get there.” 

Fundamental to Rurangguru’s success is its relentless pursuit of its guiding force: to level the playing field. “[We want to] improve accessibility, in particular, to allow underprivileged students to better access education and gain a better livelihood. We want to leverage our content and technology to benefit the greater good.” 

To see all winners of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards, visit the Social Impact Awards hub

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